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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Windows 10’s new default theme is very bright, with lots of white — from window backgrounds to white title bars. Microsoft built a dark, black theme into Windows 10, but it’s hidden.

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The System File Checker tool built into Windows can scan your Windows system files for corruption or any other changes. If a file has been modified, it will automatically replace that file with the correct version.

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However you’re getting Windows 10 — either with the free upgrade offer or on a new PC — you’re probably getting Windows 10 Home. You can pay to upgrade that Windows 10 Home system to Windows 10 Professional — but should you?

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Plug your iPhone or iPad into a USB port and you may be asked whether you want to “Trust This Computer.” You may even see this message when you plug your iPhone or iPad into a USB charger.

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Windows 10 includes Microsoft Edge, which replaces Internet Explorer as the default browser. Edge’s interface has been rewritten from scratch, and it sheds Internet Explorer’s old interface and all that clutter.

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Adobe’s Flash plug-in has a big target painted on it. A recent leak shows there’s another Flash Player 0-day that allows attackers to compromise your computer, and that it’s been for sale for the last four years.

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Macs only enable TRIM for the Apple-provided solid-state drives they come with. If you upgrade your Mac with an aftermarket SSD, your Mac won’t use TRIM with it. This reduces the drive’s performance.

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Windows 10’s “This PC” view doesn’t just show hard drives, removable storage devices, and network locations. Unlike the traditional “My Computer” list, it also contains several folders — but you can hide them and make This PC look more like Windows 7’s Computer view.

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Nintendo’s New 3DS XL promises 3.5 to 7 hours of battery life, which is quite a large range. These tips will help you get as much battery life as possible out of your 3DS, whether you’re gaming or it’s just sitting in your pocket.

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Most web browsers load Flash and other plug-in content as soon as you open a web page. Enable “click-to-play” plug-ins and your browser will load a placeholder image instead — click it to actually download and view the content.

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Skype doesn’t offer an obvious way to use multiple accounts at the same time. You don’t have to log out and log back in — you can sign into as many Skype accounts as you want via the web, Windows, Mac, or Linux Skype applications.

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Browser plug-ins are on their way out. Microsoft Edge doesn’t support ActiveX plug-ins, although it does have built-in Flash support. Google Chrome has also discontinued support for the NPAPI plug-in format used by Java, Silverlight, Unity, and other plug-ins.

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Whether you’ll be away from home while travelling or just during the workday, you may want to keep an eye on it. Solutions like Nest’s Nest Cam (formerly Dropcam) try to make this easy, but there’s more than one way to do this.

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Why type out text messages at your smartphone when you’re at a laptop or desktop PC with a full-size keyboards? These tricks allow you to send text messages directly from your PC.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 message hasn’t always been clear. They’ve declared the Windows 10 upgrade will be free for the first year and that going forward they’ll be pushing “Windows 10 as a service.

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Microsoft won’t be offering a free Windows 10 upgrade to any old Windows Vista PCs you might have around. Only Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs get to join the new Windows 10 era for free.

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Windows 10 includes many different backup tools. Microsoft has restored the old Windows Backup tool removed from Windows 8.1, and File History is still around. But those are just the tip of the iceberg.

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VPNs are very useful, whether you’re traveling the world or just using public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop in your hometown. But you don’t necessarily have to pay for a VPN service — you could host your own VPN server at home.

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Photos you take on your Android smartphone don’t have to stay digital. You can get physical copies of those photos printed out quickly and easily — using your own printer, at a local store, or sent to you in the mail.

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Modern wireless routers often promise “beamforming” technology for improving your Wi-Fi reception and reducing interference. But what exactly is beamforming, how does it work, and is it really helpful?

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Automatically logging into your Windows PC opens a security hole. When you enable automatic logins, your Windows account password is stored on your PC where any program with administrator access can access it.

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Digital photos are great, but sometimes you just want a printed photo you can hang somewhere or just hold in your hand. Print photos straight from your iPhone’s camera roll, whether you have your own photo printer or not.

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Many modern wireless routers are already dual-band, and now router companies are launching “tri-band” routers. These are marketed as “AC3200″-class routers, and promise faster Wi-Fi speeds for all your devices.

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Don’t like Windows 10? As long as you’ve upgraded within the last month, you can uninstall Windows 10 and downgrade your PC back to its original Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating system. You can always upgrade to Windows 10 again later.

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Some flights offer Wi-FI, and some flights don’t. Some airplanes include dedicated power outlets for every seat, while others only offer them in certain seats. But you can check before you get on the plane — or even before you book tickets.

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